WHAT IS CANINE (DOG) hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy uses the properties of water — buoyancy, viscosity, resistance, and hydrostatic pressure — to enable a dog (or human) to move her joints. Water makes the body buoyant, so when submerged, the weight of the body is supported. This means the dog is not fighting gravity. The buoyancy of water reduces stress on the joints and this creates a much safer environment for recovery after surgery.

Hydrotherapy is also beneficial for dogs who are recovering from an injury, dogs who suffer from degenerative joint disease, and those who have been paralyzed.

Water therapy can also help dogs suffering from fractures, hip dysplasia, the amputation of a limb, and neurological disorders. Hydrotherapy may be especially beneficial for dogs who suffer from arthritis due to old age; the warm water helps reduce joint swelling, another benefit.

Swimming provides humans with plenty of benefits, from cooling off on a hot summer day to staying in shape. And it turns out our canine companions may also reap rewards from time spent in the water.

There are a few reasons why a pet parent may consider taking their dog to an aquatic therapy facility, be it of their own volition, or under the recommendation of their veterinarian.

“Water therapy is beneficial in a variety of different areas”. “From a preventative perspective, hydrotherapy is good for fitness, body condition, and a great source of aerobic exercise that is low impact on the bones and joints. It is a great tool to help your dog stay in optimal shape.”

Dr. Jonathan Block, DVM, of Water4Dogs Canine Rehabilitation Center in New York

When it comes to fitness, strength, and conditioning, aquatic therapy is an exercise that can be done year-round for dogs as young as a year old. For instance, when the pavement in the wintertime is lined with ice or salt, a dog who is used to working, or running alongside his owner, can stay in shape thanks to water exercise. Another common reason why dogs are brought in for aquatic therapy is to help them recover following surgery (for something like an ACL tear), or to help arthritic dogs work their joints, maintain muscle mass, and move around comfortably all while minimizing discomfort.

When dogs are not moving, they can lose pretty profound muscle within six or seven weeks,” 

– Lee Deaton of Natural Healing Whole Dog Wellness in West Chicago, Illinois.

“The beautiful thing about swimming—even with an older dog who has muscle loss—is they can exercise in a completely non-weight-bearing environment.”

The resistance and buoyancy that water provides, makes it a great exercise environment for pets recovering from injury or for those suffering from joint pain, says Tari Kern, DVM, of Pawsitive Steps Rehabilitation & Therapy for Pets in Rochester Hills, Michigan. “Water is denser than air, so movement through the water and the resistance to that movement helps to work the muscles quite well, she says. “The duration of exercise needed in water may be less than [the duration] needed for similar exercise on land.”

REFERENCES

Christine Jurek, DVM, CCRT, CVA, CVC
Associate Veterinarian

Laurie McCauley, DVM, DACVSMR, CCRT, CVA, CVC
She has been credited as one of the pioneers of veterinary rehabilitation and has become one of the most recognized names in this field.

Janet Van Dyke, DVM
Dr. Van Dyke founded the Canine Rehabilitation Institute in 2002 to train and certify veterinarians, physical therapists and veterinary assistants in canine rehabilitation.

Darryl L. Millis, MS, DVM, DACVS, DACVSMR, CCRP
Professor of Orthopedic Surgery & Director of Surgical Service

Robin Downing, DVM, MS, DAAPM, DACVSMR, CVPP, CCRP
Diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management, is a a founder and past-president of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management.

Ludovica Dragone, DVM, CCRP
Vice President of VEPRA, Veterinary European of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Association.

Andrea L. Henderson, DVM, CCRT, CCRP
Resident, Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation

Steven M.Fox, MS, DVM, MBA, PhD
President Securos. Inc

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